Ironman X-O Manowar in Heavy Metal
This 1996 game by Acclaim Entertainment saw fan favourite Ironman team up with the lesser known X-O Manowar to stop a team of super villains reconstructing the Cosmic Cube. Released for the Sega Saturn, Sony PlayStation and PC, it tied in with a specially made Marvel comic book series produced at the same time.
You can play as either character, but it really makes no difference who, as they are pretty much exactly the same. They can both jump, punch and shoot their laser weapon and they can also fly, although this is strangely limited by how much fuel you have. Your laser weapon can be improved by collecting power-ups dotted around the levels. At the start of each level you are presented with a mission screen telling you about your objective. But they don’t vary that much and are all pretty generic in nature. Fight bad guys, find something and then defeat boss, rinse and repeat. Despite showing some early promise Ironman X-O Manowar in Heavy Metal is very paint by numbers.
Although it looks really nice the game just feels like it wasn’t quite finished. Some levels are a bit empty, you sometimes get stuck for no apparent reason and the controls are not the best either. It’s a shame because this had the making of a really great game.
Spider-Man and Captain America in Dr. Doom’s Revenge
Yet another game with a stupidly long name, this title was released in 1989 and sees Spider-Man and Captain America team up for the very first time in a video game. Published by Empire for the ZX Spectrum, Commodore 64, Amstrad CPC, PC, Amiga and Atari ST it also features Dr. Doom as the main antagonist.
Essentially a Street Fighter II style fighting game, you alternate between both characters as you take on a series of opponents in one-on-one battles. These include characters that will be very familiar to fans of the comic books including Machete, Boomerang, Oddball and Electro. Interestingly, it also has a cameo by The Hulk too. Before each fight you are greeted with some great looking comic book style panels telling the story so far. But once in the game it’s far less interesting with extremely boring battles that drag on too long and don’t offer a wide enough range of moves.
Dr. Doom’s Revenge gets lots of things right – the comic book style presentation and range of characters being the most notable. However the tedious gameplay ruins any enjoyment you may get out of it.
Questprobe Featuring The Hulk
Developed by the legendary Scott Adams for his own company Adventure International, this title was the first game to be published in the now obscure Questprobe Series. It was released for the Acorn Electron, Atari 8-bit, BBC Micro, Commodore 64, PC, Dragon 32 and ZX Spectrum in 1984 to critical acclaim.
The game takes the form of a text adventure with graphical interludes depicting key parts of the story. All commands are entered through the keyboard and require you to use a series of predefined words and phrases that, depending on what you put, alter the path of the story in different ways. These include movements, for example “Move west”, as well actions such as “Pick up” or “Kill”. The other Marvel characters to feature in their own Questprobe games were The Human Torch, The Thing and Spider-Man. Another game featuring the X-Men was programmed but never released due to the sad demise of Adventure International in 1985. All of the games are still highly regarded by text adventure fans.
Modern gamers may find the Questprobe series a bit clunky and unappealing compared today’s big budget productions. But there is actually a great game in each one that stays authentic to the subject matter and they will certainly please all the true fans of the Marvel Universe.